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      Pseudomonas aeruginosa Expresses a Functional Human Natriuretic Peptide Receptor Ortholog: Involvement in Biofilm Formation


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          Considerable evidence exists that bacteria detect eukaryotic communication molecules and modify their virulence accordingly. In previous studies, it has been demonstrated that the increasingly antibiotic-resistant pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa can detect the human hormones brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) and C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) at micromolar concentrations. In response, the bacterium modifies its behavior to adapt to the host physiology, increasing its overall virulence. The possibility of identifying the bacterial sensor for these hormones and interfering with this sensing mechanism offers an exciting opportunity to directly affect the infection process. Here, we show that BNP and CNP strongly decrease P. aeruginosa biofilm formation. Isatin, an antagonist of human natriuretic peptide receptors (NPR), prevents this effect. Furthermore, the human NPR-C receptor agonist cANF 4-23 mimics the effects of natriuretic peptides on P. aeruginosa, while sANP, the NPR-A receptor agonist, appears to be weakly active. We show in silico that NPR-C, a preferential CNP receptor, and the P. aeruginosa protein AmiC have similar three-dimensional (3D) structures and that both CNP and isatin bind to AmiC. We demonstrate that CNP acts as an AmiC agonist, enhancing the expression of the ami operon in P. aeruginosa. Binding of CNP and NPR-C agonists to AmiC was confirmed by microscale thermophoresis. Finally, using an amiC mutant strain, we demonstrated that AmiC is essential for CNP effects on biofilm formation. In conclusion, the AmiC bacterial sensor possesses structural and pharmacological profiles similar to those of the human NPR-C receptor and appears to be a bacterial receptor for human hormones that enables P. aeruginosa to modulate biofilm expression.


          The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a highly dangerous opportunist pathogen for immunocompromised hosts, especially cystic fibrosis patients. The sites of P. aeruginosa infection are varied, with predominance in the human lung, in which bacteria are in contact with host molecular messengers such as hormones. The C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), a hormone produced by lung cells, has been described as a bacterial virulence enhancer. In this study, we showed that the CNP hormone counteracts P. aeruginosa biofilm formation and we identified the bacterial protein AmiC as the sensor involved in the CNP effects. We showed that AmiC could bind specifically CNP. These results show for the first time that a human hormone could be sensed by bacteria through a specific protein, which is an ortholog of the human receptor NPR-C. The bacterium would be able to modify its lifestyle by favoring virulence factor production while reducing biofilm formation.

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          Most cited references61

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          Bacterial Biofilms: A Common Cause of Persistent Infections

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            An ordered, nonredundant library of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PA14 transposon insertion mutants.

            Random transposon insertion libraries have proven invaluable in studying bacterial genomes. Libraries that approach saturation must be large, with multiple insertions per gene, making comprehensive genome-wide scanning difficult. To facilitate genome-scale study of the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PA14, we constructed a nonredundant library of PA14 transposon mutants (the PA14NR Set) in which nonessential PA14 genes are represented by a single transposon insertion chosen from a comprehensive library of insertion mutants. The parental library of PA14 transposon insertion mutants was generated by using MAR2xT7, a transposon compatible with transposon-site hybridization and based on mariner. The transposon-site hybridization genetic footprinting feature broadens the utility of the library by allowing pooled MAR2xT7 mutants to be individually tracked under different experimental conditions. A public, internet-accessible database (the PA14 Transposon Insertion Mutant Database, http://ausubellab.mgh.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/pa14/home.cgi) was developed to facilitate construction, distribution, and use of the PA14NR Set. The usefulness of the PA14NR Set in genome-wide scanning for phenotypic mutants was validated in a screen for attachment to abiotic surfaces. Comparison of the genes disrupted in the PA14 transposon insertion library with an independently constructed insertion library in P. aeruginosa strain PAO1 provides an estimate of the number of P. aeruginosa essential genes.
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              Quantification of biofilm structures by the novel computer program COMSTAT.

              The structural organization of four microbial communities was analysed by a novel computer program, COMSTAT, which comprises ten features for quantifying three-dimensional biofilm image stacks. Monospecies biofilms of each of the four bacteria, Pseudomonas: putida, P. aureofaciens, P. fluorescens and P. aeruginosa, tagged with the green fluorescent protein (GFP) were grown in flow chambers with a defined minimal medium as substrate. Analysis by the COMSTAT program of four variables describing biofilm structure - mean thickness, roughness, substratum coverage and surface to volume ratio - showed that the four Pseudomonas: strains represent different modes of biofilm growth. P. putida had a unique developmental pattern starting with single cells on the substratum growing into micro-colonies, which were eventually succeeded by long filaments and elongated cell clusters. P. aeruginosa colonized the entire substratum, and formed flat, uniform biofilms. P. aureofaciens resembled P. aeruginosa, but had a stronger tendency to form micro-colonies. Finally, the biofilm structures of P. fluorescens had a phenotype intermediate between those of P. putida and P. aureofaciens. Analysis of biofilms of P. aureofaciens growing on 0.03 mM, 0.1 mM or 0.5 mM citrate minimal media showed that mean biofilm thickness increased with increasing citrate concentration. Moreover, biofilm roughness increased with lower citrate concentrations, whereas surface to volume ratio increased with higher citrate concentrations.

                Author and article information

                American Society of Microbiology (1752 N St., N.W., Washington, DC )
                25 August 2015
                Jul-Aug 2015
                : 6
                : 4
                : e01033-15
                [a ]Laboratory of Microbiology Signals and Microenvironment LMSM EA 4312, University of Rouen, Normandy University, Evreux, France
                [b ]University of Bretagne-Sud, EA 3884, LBCM, IUEM, Lorient, France
                [c ]School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom
                [d ]IMPMC, UMR7590, CNRS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
                [e ]Department of Biology, University of Cergy-Pontoise, Cergy-Pontoise, France
                [f ]Institut FEMTO-ST, Université de Franche Comté, CLIPP, Besançon, France
                [g ]UMR CNRS 6014 COBRA, University of Rouen, Evreux, France
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to Olivier Lesouhaitier, olivier.lesouhait@ 123456univ-rouen.fr .

                Editor Vanessa Sperandio, UT Southwestern Med Center Dallas

                Copyright © 2015 Rosay et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 18 June 2015
                : 28 July 2015
                Page count
                supplementary-material: 9, Figures: 6, Tables: 0, Equations: 1, References: 66, Pages: 12, Words: 11158
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                July/August 2015

                Life sciences
                Life sciences


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